WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is calling on agency heads and inspectors general at the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior, and State to address how they’ll fully implement whistleblower protections for government contractors, subcontractors, and grantees.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office—mandated following McCaskill’s bipartisan efforts to extend whistleblower protections to government contractor
s and grantee employees—highlighted key issues with implementation of these protections. The report outlined the failures of the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior, and State to include or update the appropriate clauses in contracts and to ensure that contractors inform workers of their responsibilities and rights as it pertains to whistleblowing. McCaskill’s letters to the agency heads and inspectors general at the four agencies ask for updates by March 30, 2017 on the actions they’ll take to implement the report’s recommendations.
“We need to make sure that everyone who is involved in taxpayer dollars being spent can call out waste, fraud, and abuse when they see it, without worrying about losing their job,” said McCaskill, former Missouri State Auditor. “Having these protections in place is meaningless if agencies don’t make sure they are in the contract or grant. I have seen cases fall through the cracks because agencies fell down on the job, and that’s unacceptable.”
Both the heads of agencies and inspectors general have a role in ensuring that the protections, which began as a pilot program and are now permanent, are properly implemented. Given the hundreds of billions of dollars the federal government spends every year on contracts and grants, “it is essential that employees on the front lines are empowered and protected when they disclose concerns about how those dollars are being overseen, managed, and spent,” reads the letters. The letters to inspectors general detail that it’s “imperative that inspectors general ensure robust internal compliance and also engage in oversight of ongoing implementation by the agency.” In the letters to cabinet secretaries, McCaskill calls for “detailed information on how [agencies] will meet the [Government Accountability Office’s] recommendations and…ensure robust implementation and compliance with contractor and grantee whistleblower protections moving forward.”
Since her days as Missouri’s State Auditor, McCaskill has long focused her efforts on weeding out waste, fraud, and abuse. She has expanded whistleblower protections to government contractors, subcontractors, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires through bipartisan bills that have been signed into law. In her position this year as ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, she has made clear her continued support for protecting federal whistleblowers, and last year, she partnered with the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to pass a bill further empowering inspectors general to conduct oversight targeting waste, fraud, and abuse.
Read the letters to the agency heads and inspectors general at the Department of Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior, and State HERE.
Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/accountability to read more about McCaskill’s fight for stronger accountability in Washington.